Evan Funke wants to get one thing straight, right off the bat: F**k your pasta machine. The chef-owner of Los Angeles Italian restaurant Felix, one of Eater’s 2017 best new restaurants, has spent years perfecting the art of handmade pasta, learning from masters like Alessandra Spisni and Kosaku Kawamura. In his first cookbook, American Sfoglino, Funke explains the craft of making a sheet of pasta — a sfoglia — rolled by hand.
A sfoglia should be “a round sheet thin enough that you can read a newspaper through it,” according to the cookbook, but different pasta shapes require different sfoglia density. Lasagna calls for a thicker sheet than tagliatelle, for example. In the book, Funke helpfully equates pasta thicknesses to their equivalents in stacked Post-it® Notes and urges readers not to despair if their first few attempts are clumsy.
The book is an incredible guide, and it explains what tools you’ll need to get started, but for more specifics, Eater reached out to Funke. To make pasta at home the American Sfoglino way, here’s everything you’ll need.
A digital scale
When making fresh pasta dough, Funke insists that measuring both wet and dry ingredients by weight is the only way to go. He likes digital scales from Escali. The Pico should be sufficient for most home cooks, and the Metallic Arti glass kitchen scale is one step up — it can weigh up to 15 pounds, compared to 11 pounds for the smaller model.
A mattarello and tagliere
“The equipment I use in the book is very specific, and it can be very difficult to find in the U.S.,” Funke says. His preferred mattarello — a long, narrow wooden rolling pin used to roll sheets of pasta — is imported from a second-generation woodworker named Davide Occhi. Funke plans to sell this equipment himself soon, and he also includes instructions for the amateur woodworker to make both the mattarello and tagliere, a wooden board for rolling out the pasta dough.
But if you’re looking to get started sooner, you can buy a mattarello on Etsy or opt instead for a simple wooden rolling pin, like this Williams Sonoma version. In a pinch, Funke says that even a wine bottle will do the trick. And for a surface for rolling out the pasta dough, Funke recommends a clean countertop or any large cutting board.
Cutting and shaping tools
The tools you’ll need to form the dough into shapes for lasagna, tagliatelle, and balanzoni don’t need to be anything fancy. Funke’s preferred knife for cutting long pasta noodles like tagliatelle and pappardelle is the 8-inch chef’s knife from Victorinox Fibrox, which he describes as “good, cheap, and easy to sharpen.” For pasta shapes like strichetti and triangoli he likes to use an accordion pastry cutter, like this one from Ateco, to ensure perfectly equal cuts.
Funke also suggests buying a Winco dough scraper, both for making the pasta dough (it helps you scrape any remaining flour from your work surface into the dough) and keeping your workspace clean.
After you’ve spent the time and effort to make your own dough and shape your own pasta, be sure to cook it with care. Funke says you can’t go wrong with All-Clad pans to boil pasta water. He likes the All-Clad 8-quart stainless steel stockpot, but says you’ll likely need a couple of smaller pots and saute pans to make pasta sauce. (And yes, particular pasta shapes do merit particular sauces.)
A few finishing touches
Most dishes in American Sfoglino call for freshly cracked pepper; Funke uses a Le Creuset pepper mill to grind his whole peppercorns. You’ll also need a grater for Parmigiano-Reggiano. The Microplane Rasp grater is dishwasher-safe and makes quick work of even the hardest cheese.
Lastly, you’ll want to serve your pasta and accompanying sauces in the most appealing way possible — the plating should reflect the time and care you put into the recipes. At Felix, Funke says, they’re loving the ceramic ware from ceramicist Jono Pandolfi.
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